When you’re running a business, it can feel like there’s something new to worry about every day. On top of all of your regular responsibilities, and on top of all of the things that can go wrong at your workplace, you’re always hearing about the latest and greatest things that (salesmen and others insist) you simply must invest in.
You need to outsource this, specialize in that, familiarize yourself with this, buy that, etc. So when you hear about SEO, you may think that it’s just another thing that your business doesn’t need, at least not really.
But if you think that, then you’re mistaken. The fact of the matter is that SEO is extremely important for all types of businesses (including small, local businesses), and that it’s only getting more important as time goes on.
Here’s what you need to know.
Search engines drive sales
No matter what line of work you’re in, the major search engines like Google and Bing matter to you. When folks want to try out a new restaurant, they search Google for ideas. When a driver gets a flat tire, they’re going to use Google Maps to find the closest auto shop. When would-be clients need lawyers, psychiatrists, and all manner of other professionals, where do they look? You guessed it: search engines and apps, again and again.
These days, search engines are the new phone books. Your potential customers and clients are typing queries into search engine websites and apps (or asking their digital assistants, like Alexa and Google, to search for them). The increasing popularity of smartphones (and breakthroughs in local search algorithms and features) have made these consumer habits more and more relevant to small local businesses. Nowadays, nobody can afford to ignore the search giants.
What SEO actually is
SEO is short for “search engine optimization,” and it’s a fancy term for something that is relatively simple, at least in its purpose. You want the search engines to like your business as much as possible. You want your business to be front and center in the search results for popular queries that your potential customers will likely input. Making your web presence as appealing as possible to the search engines is called SEO. That’s all it is.
Of course, in practice, this stuff is pretty complicated. We know a bit about how search engines work, but we don’t know everything. Google and other search engines guard their algorithms jealously, and they don’t want anyone else (including SEO experts) to know what the exact weighting of different factors is. Plus, Google’s algorithm is always changing. The same goes for Bing and the rest of the gang — SEO is a moving target.
So SEO pros need to be constantly reading up on the latest trends and doing comparison testing to learn how to improve SEO right here and right now. It all needs to be in place, and there’s a lot to consider. Search engines care about keywords and keyword density, websites which link to your site (and how reliable and reputable those sites are), and even weird little HTML details.
SEO is a complicated process, but the goal is simple: appear higher in search engine results. And that’s why small business owners should consider working with digital marketing firms to get their SEO in order. The simple goal of SEO is one that will make a real difference in your business’ bottom line, and the complexities of the actual SEO process make it best left to a professional. It all adds up to a bright thing for growing businesses to outsource.